Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 133, Issue 3–4, pp 711–726 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal variations of potential evapotranspiration and aridity index in relation to influencing factors over Southwest China during 1960–2013

  • Yifei Zhao
  • Xinqing ZouEmail author
  • Liguo Cao
  • Yulong Yao
  • Guanghe Fu
Original Paper


This study investigated the spatial–temporal patterns and trends of potential evapotranspiration (ET0) and aridity index (AI) over Southwest China during 1960–2013 based on daily temperature, precipitation, wind speed, sunshine duration, total solar radiation, and relative humidity data from 108 meteorological stations. The Penman–Monteith model, Mann–Kendall (M–K) test, moving t test, and Morlet wavelet method were used. The results indicated that ET0 and AI across the region displayed decreasing trends, but the former was significant. After 2000, regionally average trends in ET0 and AI increased rapidly, indicating that droughts increased over Southwest China in recent years. Spatially, the changes of ET0 and AI were dissimilar and not clustered, either. Temporally, both ET0 and AI displayed obvious abrupt change points over different timescales and that of AI was during the winter monsoon period. Significant periodic variations with periods of 27, 13, and 5 years were found in ET0, but only of 13 and 5 years existed in AI. Correlation analysis revealed that the sunshine duration and wind speed were the dominant factors affecting ET0 and that AI showed strong negative correlation with precipitation. The findings of this study enhance the understanding of the relationship between climate change and drought in Southwest China, while the mechanism controlling the variation in drought requires further study.



This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2013CB956503), Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41471431), and the Program B for Outstanding PhD candidate of Nanjing University (No. 201602B057).

Supplementary material

704_2017_2216_MOESM1_ESM.doc (12.6 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 12922 kb)


  1. Allen RG, Pereira LS, Raes D, Smith M (1998) Crop evapotranspiration-guidelines for computing crop water requirements. FAO irrigation and drainage paper 56. Rome, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  2. Blaney HF, Criddle WD (1950) Determining water needs from climatological data. USDA Soil Conservation Service. SOS–TP, USA, pp 8–9Google Scholar
  3. Cao W, Shen SH, Duan CF (2012) Temporal-spatial variations of potential evapotranspiration and quantification of the causes in the northwest China. Acta Ecol Sinica 32(11):3394–3403 (in Chinese)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cao LG, Pan SM, Wang Q, Wang Y, Wei X (2013) Changes in extreme wet events in Southwestern China in 1960–2011. Quatern Int 321(2014):116–124Google Scholar
  5. Chattopadhyay N, Hulme M (1997) Evaporation and potential evapotranspiration in India under conditions of recent and future climate change. Agric For Meteorol 87:55–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen H, Sun J (2015) Changes in drought characteristics over China using the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index. J Clim 28(13):281–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen SB, Liu YF, Thomas A (2006) Climatic change on the Tibetan Plateau: potential evapotranspiration trends from 1961-2000. Clim Chang 76:291–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen C, Pang YM, Pan XB, Wang CY (2011a) Analysis on change of reference crop evapotranspiration and climatic influence factors in Sichuan. Chin J Agrometeorol 32(1):35–40 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  9. Chen C, Pang YM, Pan XB, Zhang DF (2011b) Characteristics of climate resources under global climate change in Sichuan Province. Resour Sci 33(7):1310–1316 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  10. Chen X, Zhang Y, Zhou Y, Zhang Z (2013) Analysis of hydrogeological parameters and numerical modeling groundwater in a karst watershed, southwest China. Carbonate Evaporite 28(1–2):89–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheng S (2010) The spatial and temporal change of wind speed and wind power over China in nearly 50 years. Nanjing University of information science and technology, Nanjing (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  12. Dai SW, Yang XG, Zhao M, Li Y, Wang WF, Liu ZJ (2011) Changes of China agricultural climate resources under the background of climate change II. Spatiotemporal change characteristics of agricultural climate resources in Southwest China. Chin J Appl Ecol 22(2):442–452 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  13. Dingman SL (2002) Physical hydrology. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  14. Dong HP, Zhao SX, Zeng QC (2005) Study of strong heavy rainfall in low latitude plateau area in China during early summer. part II: comparison between circulation and climatology causing flood in May 2001 and drought in May 2005. Climatic Environ Res 10(3):460–473 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  15. Duan HX, Wang JS, Liu YY, Li YP, Wang SP (2013) The features of continuous heavy drought from autumn, 2009 to spring, 2010 in Southwest China and analysis of its atmospheric circulation anomalies. J Glaciol Geocryol 35(4):1022–1035 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  16. Fan ZX, Thomas A (2013) Spatiotemporal variability of reference evapotranspiration and its contributing climatic factors in Yunnan Province, SW China, 1961-2004. Clim Chang 116(2):309–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fan Y, Zhou Y, Zou Y, Li J (2010) Analysis on change trend of precipitation and evaporation in dry-hot valley in Southwest China. Yangtze River 41(1):17–20 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  18. FAO (1998) Crop evapotranspiration guidelines for computing crop water requirements. Food and Agriculture Organization, RomeGoogle Scholar
  19. Feng J, Yan DH, Li CZ, Yu FL, Zhang C (2013) Assessing the impact of climatic factors on potential evapotranspiration in droughts in North China. Quatern Int 336(2014):6–12.Google Scholar
  20. Fu GB, Chen SL, Liu CM, Shepard D (2004) Hydro-climatic trends of the Yellow River Basin for the last 50 years. Clim Chang 65:149–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guo J, Li GP (2008) Multi-time scales analysis of variations of water resource in Emei Mountain from 1951 to 2005. Sci Meteorogica Sinica 28(5):552–557 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  22. Hao ZC, Yang RR, Chen XM, Chen X, Liang ZH, Dawa DZ (2013) Tempospatial patterns of the potential evaporationin the Yangtze River catchment for the period 1960-2011. J Glaciol Geocryol 35(2):408–419 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  23. He YB, Lu PZ, Zhu T (2000) Causes for the formation of dry-hot valleys in Hengduan mountain-Yunnan Plateau. Resour Sci 22(5):69–72 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  24. Hobbins MT, Ramirez JA, Brown TC (2004) Trends in pan evaporation and actual evapotranspiration across the conterminous US: Paradoxicalor complementary. Geophys Res Lett 31:L13503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huang Q, Cai Y, Xing X (2008) Rocky desertification, antidesertification, and sustainable development in the karst mountain region of Southwest China. AMBIO J Hum Environ 37(5):390–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huang RH, Liu Y, Wang L, Wang L (2012) Analyses of the causes of severe drought occurring in Southwest China from the fall of 2009 to the spring of 2010. Chinese J Atmos Sci 36(3):443-457Google Scholar
  27. Huo ZL, Dai XQ, Feng SY, Kang SZ, Huang GH (2013) Effect of climate change on reference evapotranspiration and aridity index in arid region of China. J Hydrol 492:24–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. IPCC (2007) Climate change: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Summary for Policymakers. Report of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  29. IPCC (2013) Climate change 2013: the physical science basis [M/OL]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, in pressGoogle Scholar
  30. Irmak S, Kabenge I, Skaggs KE, Mutiibwa D (2012) Trend and magnitude of changes in climate variables and reference evapotranspiration over 116-yr period in the Platte River Basin, central Nebraska–USA. J Hydrol 420–421:228–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jhajharia D, Dinpashoh Y, Kahya E, Singh VP, Fakheri-Fard A (2012) Trends in reference evapotranspiration in the humid region of northeast India. Hydrol Process 26:421–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jiang Y, Luo Y, Zhao Z, Tao S (2010) Changes in wind speed over China during 1956–2004. Theor Appl Climatol 99(3):421–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jun A, Hideyukin K, Lu M (2004) Pan evaporationtrends in Japan and its relevance to the variability of the hydrological cycle. Tenki 51(9):667e678Google Scholar
  34. Kendall MG (1975) Rank correlation methods. Griffin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  35. Kong XW, Yu LJ, Liu XW (2012) Spatial and temporal characteristics of winter drought/flood in southwest China and correlation with Arctic Oscillation. Arid Land Geogr 35(6):875–882 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  36. Li YQ (2003) Surface heating in the Tibetan Plateau and general circulation over it and their relations with the prediction of drought-flood at its eastern side. Chin J Atmos Sci 27(1):107–114 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  37. Li J, Su Z (1996) Glaciers in the Hengduan Mountains. Science, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  38. Li J, Xiong A (2004) Summary of research on meteorological scientific data sharing system. Appl Meteorol Sci 15(suppl):1–9 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  39. Li Z, Jiang FQ (2007) A study of abrupt climate change in Xinjiang region during 1961–2004. J Glaciol Geocryol 29(3):351–359 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  40. Li YH, Xu HM, Liu D (2009) Features of the extremely severe drought in the east of Southwest China and anomalies of atmospheric circulation in summer 2006. Acta Meteorol Sinica 67(1):122–132Google Scholar
  41. Li YH, Lu CH, Xu HM, Cheng BY, Wang Y (2011) Contemporaneous relationships between summer atmospheric heat source drought/flood in eastern southwest China. Chin J Atmos Sci 35(3):422–434 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  42. Li ZX, He YQ, Wang PY, Theakstone WH, An WL, Wang XF, Lu A, Zhang W, Cao WH (2012) Changes of daily climate extremes in southwestern China during 1961-2008. Glob Planet Chang 80:255–272Google Scholar
  43. Li Z, Feng Q, Liu W, Wang T, Gao Y, Wang Y (2014) Spatial and temporal trend of potential evapotranspiration and related driving forces in southwestern china, during 1961–2009. Quatern Int 336(23):127–144Google Scholar
  44. Lian Y, You GJY, Lin K, Jiang Z, Zhang C, Qin X (2015) Characteristics of climate change in southwest China karst region and their potential environmental impacts. Environ Earth Sci 74(2):937–944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Liang L, Li L, Liu Q (2010) Temporal variation of reference evapotranspiration during 1961–2005 in the Taoer River basin of Northeast China. Agric For Meteorol 150(2):298–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lin ZG, Peng KX, Jiao YZ (1983) Spatial and temporal distribution of precipitation hours in China. Acta Geogr Sinica 38(4):382–396 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  47. Liu Y, Zhao EX, Peng GF, Yang SQ (2007a) Severe drought in the early summer of 2005 in Yunnan and middle-high latitudes circulation. Arid Meteorol 25(1):32–37 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  48. Liu XR, Li GP, Fan GZ, Cheng BY, Li H (2007b) Spatial and temporal characteristics of precipitation resource in Southwest China during1961-2000. J Nat Resour 22(5):783–792 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  49. Mann HB (1945) Nonparametric tests against trend. Econometrica 13:245–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McVicar TR, Van Niel TG, Roderick ML, Li LT, Mo XG, Zimmermann NE, Schmatz DR (2010) Observational evidence from two mountainous regions that near-surface wind speeds are declining more rapidly at higher elevations than lower elevations: 1960–2006. Geophys Res Lett 37:6Google Scholar
  51. Moonen AC, Ercoli L, Mariotti M, Masoni A (2002) Climate change in Italy indicated by agrometeorological indices over 122 years. Agric For Meteorol 111:13–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Peterson TC, Golubev VS, Groisman PY (1995) Evaporation losing its strength. Nature 377:687–688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Piao S, Ciais P, Huang Y, Shen Z, Peng S, Li J, Friedlingstein P (2010) The impacts of climate change on water resources and agriculture in China. Nature 467(7311):43–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Roderick ML, Farquhar GD (2005) Changes in New Zealand pan evaporation since the 1970s. Int J Climatol 25:2031–2039CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rong YS, Yu JH, Duan LY (2007) Causes and comparison of the droughts of north China in 1980’s and 1990’s. Plateau Meteorol 26(2):319–325 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  56. Shen YB, Zhao ZC, Shi GY (2008) The progress in variation of surface solar radiation, factors and probable climatic effects. Adv Earth Sci 29(9):915–923Google Scholar
  57. Shi YF, Shen YP, Li DL, Zhang GW, Ding YJ, Hu RJ, Kang ES (2003) Discussion on the present climate change from warm-dry to warm-wet in northwest China. Quatern Sci 23(2):152–164 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  58. Some’e BS, Ezani A, Tabari H (2013) Spatiotemporal trends of aridity index in arid and semi-arid regions of Iran. Theor Appl Climatol 111(1–2):149–160Google Scholar
  59. Thomas A (2002) Seasonal and spatial variation of evapotranspiration in the mountains of Southwest China. J Mt Sci-Engl 20(4):385–393Google Scholar
  60. Thornthwaite CW (1948) An approach toward a rational classification of climate. Geogr Rev 38:57–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Vautard R, Cattiaux J, Yiou P, Thépaut JN, Ciais P (2010) Northern Hemisphere atmospheric stilling partly attributed to an increase in surface roughness. Nat Geosci 3(11):756–761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wang HJ (2001) The weakening of the Asian monsoon circulation after the end of 1970s. Adv Atmos Sci 18:376–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wang HJ (2002) Instability of the East Asian summer monsoon-ENSO relations. Adv Atmos Sci 19:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wang XL (2003) Comments on detection of undocumented changepoints: a revision of the two-phase regression model. J Clim 16:3383–3385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wang B (2004) A study on synthetic differentiation method for basic meteorological data quality control. J Appl Meteorol Sci 15(Suppl):51–59 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  66. Wang ZY, Ding YH (2009) Impacts of the long-term change of the summer Asian polar vortex on the circulation system and the water vapor transport in East Asia. Chin J Geophys 52(1):20–29Google Scholar
  67. Wang B, Li YQ (2010) Relationship analysis between South Branch Trough and severe drought of Southwest China during autumn and winter 2009/2010. Plateau Mt Meteorol Res 30(4):26–35 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  68. Wang Y, Zhou L (2005) Observed trends in extreme precipitation events in China during 1961–2001 and the associated changes in largescale circulation. Geophys Res Lett 32:L09707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wang LZ, Cao LG, Deng XJ, Jia PH, Zhang W, Xu XWH, Zhang KX, Zhao YF, Yan BJ, Hu W, Chen YY (2014) Changes in aridity index and reference evapotranspiration over the central and eastern Tibetan Plateau in China during 1960–2012[J]. Quatern Sci 349:280–286Google Scholar
  70. Wang WG, Shao QX, Peng SZ, Xing WQ, Yang T, Luo YF, Yong B, Xu JZ (2012) Reference evapotranspiration change and the causes across the Yellow River Basin during 1957-2008 and their spatial and seasonal differences. Water Resour Res 48:W05530Google Scholar
  71. Wang BL, Zhang MJ, Wei JL, Wang SJ, Li XF, Li SS, Zhao AF, Li XS, Fan JP (2013) Changes in extreme precipitation over Northeast China, 1960-2011. Quatern Int 298(17):177–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wu SH, Yin YH, Zheng D, Yang QY (2005) Climate change in the Tibetan plateau during the last three decades. Acta Geogr Sinica 65(1):3–11 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  73. Xie XQ, Wang L (2007) Changes of potential evaporation in northern China over the past 50 years. J Nat Resour 22(5):683–691 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  74. Yang DW, Sun FB, Liu ZY, Cong ZT, Lei ZD (2006) Interpreting the complementary relationship in non-humid environments based on the Budyko and Penman hypotheses. Geophys Res Lett 33(18)Google Scholar
  75. Yang J, Gong DY, Wang WS, Hu M, Mao R (2012) Extreme drought event of 2009/2010 over southwestern China. Meteorog Atmos Phys 115:173–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Yin H, Li YH (2013) Summary of advance on drought study in Southwest China. J Arid Meteorol 31(1):182–193 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  77. You Q, Kang S, Pepin N, Yan Y (2008) Relationship between trends in temperature extremes and elevation in the eastern and central Tibetan Plateau, 1961-2005. Geophys Res Lett 35:L04704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Zeng LH, Song KS, Zhang B, Wang ZM, Du J (2010) Spatiotemporal variability of reference evapotranspiration over the northeast region of China in the last 60 years. Adv Water Sci 21(2):194–200 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  79. Zhang K (1988) The climatic dividing line between SW and SE monsoons and their differences in climatology and ecology in Yunnan Province of China. Climatol Notes 38:157–166Google Scholar
  80. Zhang FM, Shen SH (2007) Spatial distribution and temporal trend of reference crop evapotranspiration in China. J Nanjing Inst Meteorol 30(5):705–709 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  81. Zhang X, Yang F (2004) RClimDex (1.0) user manual. Climate Research Branch Environment Canada, Downsview, p 22Google Scholar
  82. Zhang RZ, Zheng D, Yang QY (1992) Dry valley in the Hengduan Mountainous Region. Science Press, Beijing (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  83. Zhang JP, Yang Z, Wang DJ, Zhang XB (2002) Climate change and causes in the Yuanmou dry-Hot Valley of Yunnan, China. J Arid Environ 51(1):153–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Zhang Q, Chen GY, Su BD, Disse M, Jiang T, Xu CY (2008) Periodicity of sediment load and runoff in the Yangtze Riverbasin and possible impacts of climatic changes and human activities. Hydrolog Sci J 53(2):457–465Google Scholar
  85. Zhang MJ, RX LI, Jia WX, Wang XF (2009) Temporal and spatial change of the potential evaporation in Tianshan Mountains from 1960 to 2006. Acta Geogr Sinica 64(7):798–806 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  86. Zhang MJ, He JY, Wang BL, Wang SJ, Li SS, Liu WL, Ma XN (2013) Extreme drought changes in Southwest China from 1960 to 2009. Acta Geogr Sinica 23(1):3–16Google Scholar
  87. Zhao FF, Xu ZX (2006) Long term trend and jump change for major climate processes over the upper Yellow River Basin. Acta Meteorol Sin 64(2):246–255Google Scholar
  88. Zhao Y, Zou X, Zhang J, Cao L, Xu X, Zhang K, Chen Y (2014) Spatio-temporal variation of reference evapotranspiration and aridity index in the Loess Plateau Region of China, during 1961–2012. Quatern Sci 349:196–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Zhu ZL, Zhao XJ, Wang CT, Hou LC (2006) Rules of drought and the development of water-saving agriculture in southwest China. Ecol Environ 15(4):876–880 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  90. Zou XK, Gao H (2007) Analysis of severe drought and heat wave over the Sichuan Basin in the summer of 2006. Adv Climate Change Res 3:149–153 (in Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yifei Zhao
    • 1
  • Xinqing Zou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Liguo Cao
    • 3
  • Yulong Yao
    • 1
  • Guanghe Fu
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Geographic and Oceanographic SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Coast and Island Development, Ministry of EducationNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.School of Tourism and Environment SciencesShaanxi Normal UniversityXi’anChina

Personalised recommendations